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Philosophy Versus Ideology -- Why They Are Not the Same (And How To Identify)

Updated: Jul 9

An assemblage of concern

Article Synopsis by Mr. O. C. Isaac and Co.

The article "Philosophy Versus Ideology - Why They Are Not the Same (And How To Identify)" is an insightful exploration of the distinctions between philosophy and ideology. It effectively defines the differences between the two concepts, highlighting their fundamental differences in approach and mindset.
The article's strengths include clear definitions and distinctions, such as the analogy of a researcher vs. advocate, emphasis on critical thinking, universal applicability, use of quotations and references, and engaging structure.

Ideologies are collections of beliefs that guide individuals or groups, while philosophy is a broader, more rigorous pursuit of understanding. Mr. Tomasio uses the analogy of a philosopher to a researcher and the ideologist to an advocate, providing a relatable way to differentiate the approaches each takes toward ideas and beliefs.
The article also emphasizes the importance of being aware of our own beliefs and how they shape our perceptions. The use of quotations from various sources, such as ir. Titus K. Suter and Team BeverlyBoy, adds credibility and depth to the discussion.
The article's structure, divided into parts with clear subheadings, makes it easy to follow and digest the information.
In conclusion, the article "Philosophy Versus Ideology - Why They Are Not the Same (And How To Identify)" is a well-researched and engaging piece that effectively distinguishes between philosophy and ideology.

Part I: Introduction: Philosophy vs. Ideology

The terms "philosophy" and "ideology" are often used interchangeably, but beneath the surface, a deeper distinction lies. While ideology can be a subset of philosophy, the latter encompasses a broader and more rigorous pursuit of understanding.

An ideology is essentially a collection of beliefs, a framework through which we navigate the world. It can be personal, guiding an individual's choices, or it can be shared by a group, shaping their collective perspective. In this sense, we all possess ideologies, which may or may not be explicitly defined, titled, or categorized.

Philosophy delves far deeper than mere belief. It's a systematic method for investigating the nature of reality, existence, knowledge, and countless other fundamental questions. The philosopher is a relentless truth-seeker, wielding reason as their tool. He/she may do it with or without sources to support their logic-based thinking. They are open to questioning their own assumptions and revising their views based on new evidence or arguments. This openness to being wrong is crucial in the pursuit of truth.

An ideology, belief and philosophy may be referred to synonymously. However, the difference between a follower/practictioner of belief and a philosopher, is a matter of how ideas are treated and used.

The Difference of Approach

The key distinction lies in the approach to ideas. Here's where the analogy of researcher and advocate comes in handy.

  • The Ideologist: An ideologist follows a particular set of beliefs, often with a strong emotional attachment. They may be resistant to opposing viewpoints, fearing, without resistence necessarily, that it will undermine their established worldview.

  • The Philosopher: The philosopher, on the other hand, is a dedicated researcher. They rigorously analyze evidence and arguments, willing to adapt their thinking in light of new information. Their focus lies on understanding the truth, not defending a pre-existing position. They are detached from their approaches and what they currently believe in, treating it instead like stepping stones.

Part II: We're All Ideologists, But Not Philosophers

While everyone possesses a personal "philosophy of life," this doesn't automatically make us all philosophers. There's a crucial distinction between simply holding beliefs and actively pursuing truth through critical thought. A "philosophy of life" serves the same practicality an ideology would do, with or without examination of reality:

Nothing gives a person a sense of purpose like a distinct understanding of where they're going. We all need personal philosophy in life or we risk wandering, and responding to random stimuli and information with little or no impact on our long-term goals.
...A philosophy of life is an overall vision or attitude toward life and the purpose of it. Most people spend their days living hour to hour without direction or purpose, leading to a rat race which has become tiresome instead of finding fulfillment. Thus, without a personal philosophy, we end up living without direction. -- ir. Titus K. Suter

It's safe to say we're all ideologues. We all hold a set of beliefs, a framework that shapes our perception of the world. These ideologies might be implicit, guiding our daily choices instinctively, or explicit, consciously shaping our worldview. Regardless of their form, ideologies are universal – an inherent part of being human. And In cinema:

Implicit ideologies in film represent implied and subtle instruction or connections to societal norms. Through implicit ideology, the filmmaker will use subtle nuances and hints for the viewer with the expectation that they will ultimately understand the message. Largely because it’s the “norm” or the world view anyway.
Films express ideology through implied messages rather than through outright delivery [AKA explicitly] -- Tavares, Team BaverlyBoy

There is nothing more accessible than philosophy that is explicit, unlike ideology, whose understanding can be more obvious. That's how philosophical research and texts are -- complex.

Philosophy: The Quest Beyond Belief

Philosophy transcends mere belief. It's a strict investigation into the fundamental questions of existence - reality, knowledge, and our place within both. That is amongst other aspects that are often on the macro level. Due to philosophy's emphasis on the macro level and the universality of ideas, (AKA, ideas as applicable to many areas of life), some may consider philosophers pretentious.

Ironically, the ideologist seems more reliable than the philosopher, despite his/her reduced openmindness; And the lack of the ability of looking both ways. Yet, it is the philosopher who is the one who dedicates themselves with honesty to truth-seeking; The one stereotypically discarded as being the unrealistic, impractical one.

The Researcher vs. The Advocate

The key difference lies in our approach to ideas. Here, an analogy between a researcher and an advocate proves useful:

  • The Ideologist as Advocate: Ideologues champion a specific set of beliefs, often with strong emotional attachment. They would promote their beliefs vocally and in demonstration.

  • The Philosopher as Researcher: The philosopher, on the other hand, is a dedicated researcher. Their focus is on understanding the truth, not defending a pre-existing position.

The goal of philosophy isn't merely to build an ideology, but to see beyond potentially delusional beliefs, understand the biases and fallacies that govern them; Sometimes, also synthesize the components that aren't delusional, with other ideas. This means that even a belief which can be proven as a delusion, can still have some degree of touch to reality.

The ideologist won't necessarily synthesize, and won't necessarily compromise his/her biases to examine and understand opposing viewpoints. They would be more inclined to argue than to discuss, talk at the person, instead of with the person, and may regard like-minded people as part of a greater "tribe".

Philosophers might use ideologies as a starting point for exploration – a theory about reality. But upon discovering its flaws, a genuine philosopher discards it in favor of a more accurate understanding. This unwavering commitment to truth separates them from ideologues, whose very ideologies may be used as tools to shape whole societies.

When under corrupt hands, it will be used to oppress intellectuals who might oppose oppression with their criticism, as found in Pol Pot's special treatment of Cambodian intellectuals.

Part III: "The Delusional Philosopher": An Oxymoron

The very essence of a philosopher is on their relentless pursuit of truth, and especially if they gave up on giving up. Whereas the "fanaticism" of the ideologist is in advocation, the philosopher's fanaticism is in knowledge-seeking.

Thus, the idea of a philosopher clinging to a demonstrably false ideology is a contradiction in terms. Truth-seekers cannot, or least shouldn't, remain comfortable with delusion, as delusion would only stagnate their progress. They would sacrifice their time, energy and other resources just to make sure they're not wrong.

If their ideology clashes with reality, serious philosophers will readily abandon it in favor of a more accurate understanding. In other words, they are like "nomads of ideas", besides also being formulators of ideas. Ideology, for them, is a stepping stone – not a sacred belief to be rigidly defended, especially when it hinders their pursuit of truth. It would not make sense to attribute holiness or luxury to something that is flawed. Flaws in philosophy are not to be denied but to examine and study.

A philosopher would try to learn from all opposition, and try to see where they're coming from. He or she would lower their ego and pride if necessary, given that ego can blind. They would not insult or threat those who oppose their current viewpoints. The idea of knowing that they don't know, is what keeps them being on the move. While the ideologist may be fatigued practicing their beliefs and preaching them, the philosopher may be tired from their intellectual exploration and from rumination.

What truly sets philosophers apart is their dedication to understanding as this lengthy process, which could take years if not a lifetime. They go the extra mile to examine and even lambast all angles. It is often a difficult work that requires much discipline and even voluntary quarantine from society.

For that matter I formualted the mindset of a butcher which you can learn, in order to be a better philosopher. I have no use being attached to any idea or method which hinders me from understanding and acting according to the truth. While a philosopher might hold certain ideologies – perhaps even strong political ones – their ultimate priority remains reality, AKA, the layer of existence that exists beyond all theories.

The ideologist would use ideas to understand reality, but the philosopher would study reality first, and then attempt to better understand it using ideas.

Truth Seekers Without Blinders

Clinging to beliefs, regardless of their accuracy, is akin to wearing blinders. Philosophers, in their pursuit of truth, actively seek to remove these blinders, while their counterparts would seek to reinforce their "blinders", or matrix, instead. They understand that their own personal beliefs might be flawed, and they are open to having them challenged. This openness is what allows them to navigate the complexities of the world with a more objective perspective. And by "objective" I refer to more independent from both subjectivity and intersubjectivity.

Ideologists risk becoming prisoners of their own belief systems, as is the nature of the human mind is to imprison the being in the absence of critical thinking. Plato's allegory of the Cave perfectly presents this idea. They might be so invested in their worldview, so intertwined with their sense of self-worth, that they reject any counterargument, no matter how well-reasoned. This is a recipe for denying reality and hindering intellectual growth, especially under the rule of oppression.

While some philosophers aim to create ideologies (like myself), some may pick a more dynamic approach instead, collecting different ideas from different philosophers without integrating it into a "brand". As such, some would appreciate both Diogenes and the Stoics, but be open minded enough to not create an Ancient-Greek Skeptic-Stoic hybrid point of view. Some may apply Stoicism in times of war, for instance, but may discard it elsewhere.

Part IV: The Closed Mind

By critically analyzing flawed ideologies such as Nazism and North Korea's Juche, we can learn from their mistakes and strengthen our own defenses against manipulation.  This is precisely why I delved into the dark heart of Nazism and other such darker content -- to learn and develop, not necessarily to follow nor stagnate myself and others.

Truth: An Open Road

The truth, as philosophers see it, transcends the boundaries of any single religion or ideology. It has no gatekeepers claiming exclusive ownership, for it is one anyone can find using their intellect. Skepticism and critical analysis are the philosopher's tools for navigating this vast landscape. The truth has many ways of reaching it.

The Philosopher's Embrace of Doubt

Philosophy doesn't imply that ideologies or religions are inherently wrong, just because philosophers actively seek flaws. Even the most cherished beliefs can be subject to philosophical scrutiny. 

Imagine learning your partner cheated. A philosopher wouldn't cling to the comforting belief of their loyalty despite evidence to the contrary. They would face the truth, however painful, to gain a clearer picture of reality. He/she would use inquiry for problem-solving, instead of clinging to the limited view of their current beliefs.

In fact, they'd welcome any disagreement, any criticism, as an opportunity to get closer to the truth. They won't let their emotions stand in their way if they are strong enough to endure them. Perhaps they fear confronting potential delusions. Here, the philosopher offers a different path – one where intellectual growth thrives on the embrace of discomfort.

Conclusion: To Relent or Not To Relent

Unlike a defeated villain succumbing to despair, the philosopher rises from the ashes of every disproven belief like a true Eggman. Their pursuit of truth is a relentless quest, and a haunting presence, seeking the truth as long as they are tenacious and not conflicted in will.

And when they doubt their own quest, two paths lie before them: one of resignation, abandoning the search as too difficult, and the other, a lifelong commitment to philosophizing, a dedication fueled by reason, and never attachment.

The Ideologist might've given up a long time ago.

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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